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Review: The Irish Loop



An enjoyable run through nice scenery

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2344 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • Sep 2010
  • Husband

47 people found this review helpful

This is one of the recognised driving routes in Eastern Newfoundland. It is a circular route but we only drove the eastern side of the loop from Bay Bulls to St Shotts and back the same way.

A word of warning – if you intend to do the whole loop returning along Highway 13 (Witless Bay Line) check that it is open as there is a big sign at either end of the road warning that in stormy weather the road might be impassible and to find another route. The road surface is in poor condition. It is an exposed run with little settlement but lots of bare rock and bog.

Witless Bay is a large sprawling settlement around bay, very much into whale watching, iceberg and puffin trips.

We enjoyed the drive south through wooded hills with lots of ups and downs, ponds, streams and and some nice views. We saw a moose which was galloping towards us away from a 4×4 coming up behind it. When it saw us, it turned and disappeared into the woods. Seen close to they are big. If hit they can do a lot of damage to a car.

We dropped down to Baudine East, a small cove surrounded by dark black cliffs with a few houses and pier for whale watching trips. The boat had been pulled well up in beach but the cabin had been destroyed by Hurricane Igor and display boards along pier blown down. This is no longer a fishing village and big new houses are appearing on the hillsides above the cove.

The road does a big loop round La Manche Provincial Park. We had originally intended to stop here and walk However this was the day after Hurricane Igor had swept across the island doing a lot of damage. As the road into the park was gravel through trees so decided to give it a miss.

We drove through Ferryland, the site of the Colony of Avalon Archaeological Dig and Ferryland Lighthouse picnics.

After Renews trees started to get smaller and sparser and the barrens began after Cappahayden with trees found in lower lying areas where soil could collect. From Cappahayden the road cut inland with small lakes. We had lost the settlement but there were some small wooden fishing shacks along the road and a few parked cars belonging to fishermen.

Further south the ground became a lot wetter with bog vegetation and an isolated ridge of hills inland. In Biscay Bay at the head of the cove there was a good sea running and washing up onto the beach. Trepassy was another long straggling settlement which straggled as far as Lower Cove and along the peninsula with no obvious services. We lost the settlement again after Daniels’ Point. The coastal barrens were completely flat and stretched as far as the eye could see. We could see the road snaking across the landscape. There was no habitation, not even fishing cabins.

There was no sign of caribou near the Lookout (junction of St Shott’s road) either which is one of the best places to see them apparently. We called in at the Interpretive Centre at Portugal Cove South (free but donations welcomed). The staff were delighted to see visitors and went out of their way to make us welcome. There is a short video and a display about the fossil beds around Mistaken Point. (They do walking tours of the fossil beds.)

St Shott's is at the end of a long side road across the flat barrens. It was one of the few places that successfully resisted being resettled in 1960s. The settlement is scattered across the plateau above the fishing harbour. Several houses had the remains of stone and wooden fences and one house was still growing crops. An old shed at the top of the hill had collapsed after Hurricane Igor and a trailer had been blown over. There was still a strong wind blowing with waves ‘boshing’ against the shore. There was a deep ravine with small stream running down to beach and a big shingle bar across most of the beach. An old dirt road disappeared across a bridge into the middle distance.

There is a very well sheltered new harbour still with some crab and lobster fishing. On the side of the harbour was a long boat shed containing several old boats. Working boats had been pulled well up the slipway.

We stopped off at the Interpretive Centre at Portugal Cove South (free but donations welcomed) on the way back. The staff were delighted to see visitors and went out of their way to make us welcome. There is a short video and a display about the fossil beds around Mistaken Point, which can only be seen by joining a guided tour from the centre. It is possible to drive along the unpaved road around the coast to Cape Race.

By now it was time to drive back to Bay Bulls. It was too late to do any of side turnings which was a pity as some of them looked as if they would have been worth exploring.

This was very much a pottering day – we enjoyed exploring the smaller settlements along the coast. It took us all day and even then there were still places we hadn't had time to stop and explore. There was little traffic and few tourists around.

There is plenty to do and see on the loop. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days around here. There are whale watching tours from Witless Bay. There is Ferryland and the Colony of Avalon Archaeological Dig and Ferryland Lighthouse with its picnics. There are trails in La Manche Provincial Park as well as the East Coast trail which is signed off in several places.

Our pictures can be seen starting here.  

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